Apparently, I am not that Nice

So, I have started coming under attack for my interview with Libby Davies, and I would like the chance to defend myself.  One such person to call me out is Murray Dobbins, and I would like to defend myself.  He writes

In this case Vancouver East MP Libby Davies got bushwacked by a pro-Israel activist posing as a neutral – if not pro-Palestinian – blogger. After a rally for the Palestinians criticizing Israel’s deadly assault on the aid flotilla, a man approached Libby asking for an interview. As she always does, because she never hides her views, she complied. He immediately set her up with what he called a “background question.” He asked when the occupation began, 1948 or 1967.

Libby hesitated then said 1948. She made the point that the date was not important – that whatever the date the occupation was the longest in the world – and far too long.

The next day the interview appeared on YouTube. But in 24 hours it had gone nowhere – just 28 views. Then the most vociferous supporter of Israel in the NDP caucus, Thomas Mulcair, got wind of it and it escalated out of control. He went on a relentless campaign to punish Libby. The spin he helped create was that if Libby believed the occupation began in 1948 then she, ipso facto, believes that Israel has no right to exist. Libby has always gone to great lengths to make it clear that she supports Israel’s right to exist and the two-state solution endorsed by the NDP. But suddenly Jack Layton was in full-panic mode. He apologized to the Israeli ambassador. He hung Libby out to dry. He forced her to issue a public apology.

First, off, what does it mean to be a pro Israel activist pretending to be neutral?  While yes some would describe my views as pro Israel, there are also a lot that would describe my views as anti-Israel.  The fact is, it is a complex issue and unless you are a far right Jewish settler, or an Islamic militant, there will always be someone who will think you are not extreme enough.  If Mr. Dobbins were to actually have read what I wrote about the interview, he would have seen that I did not seriously criticize her statement that the occupation started in 1948.  But instead focused on her lack of understanding of the material.  In the very same article, I criticized a pro Israel, right wing commentator for spreading hearsay.  Regardless of all that, isn’t the goal of being a good journalist attempting to be neutral regardless of one’s views?  I did not challenge any of her answers with counter facts, or suggest in anyway that I agreed or disagreed with her.  Even looking at the YouTube title “MP Libby Davies interviewed on Israel” should be a sign that I honestly was attempting to remain neutral throughout the entire production process.

Second, with regards to the background question, I really thought I was throwing her a lob so I could establish a baseline on her views.  I did not know about the Helen Thomas incident at the time, and did not expect the reaction that has happened since then.  This was the second interview I ever did, and the first one I ever posted.   The first interview I conducted I became so tongue tied and nervous that the my questions were pretty much incoherent.  I don’t know how to say this otherwise, but I am not some sort of devious investigator with an agenda. I just wanted an interesting conversation and to record it for facebook and my blog.

Third, with regards to the YouTube time line, I call horsehockey.  Yes one could spin conspiracy theories, but the truth is, that is how the internet works.  The video first spread slowly because I just posted it to my wall, the a friend of mine put it on his, and it eventually reached a prominent conservative blog, Small Dead Animals, the moment she posted it, the traffic exploded.  I do not know where his speculation regarding a conspiracy involving Mulcair comes from, but I would be interested to know his sourcing, or if it was simply a theory.

I really never imagined that this would become the story that it has become.  I did not try to bushwack anyone, and tried to be as civil as I possibly could, even apologized at one time during the interview.  I understand it must hurt Mr. Dobbins to see a leader he cares for and respects come under attack, but lashing out against an amateur journalist who did his very best to keep his opinions out of the interview is downright mean.

3 Responses to “Apparently, I am not that Nice”

  1. zalm says:

    The only question I have is, how did you identify yourself to Libby?

  2. David Katz says:

    I introduce myself as david katz, and told her that I was taking over as editor of a progressive blog on american politics. I did not tell her my Israel views on Israel were. In fact, in the piece that I wrote about her, I did not challenge her for believing the occupation started in 1948, but instead for having what appeared to be a poor understanding of the facts.

  3. Wayne Phillips says:

    What’s up with the question?

    Why the question, “When do you believe that the occupation “in Israel” started — ’48 or 67?”

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